Nawaz conveys concern over drone strikes to Hagel | Pakistan Today

Nawaz conveys concern over drone strikes to Hagel

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday once again conveyed Pakistan’s concern over US drone strikes, stressing that drone strikes were counterproductive to efforts to combat terrorism and extremism on an enduring basis.
Nawaz conveyed the concern during meeting with US Secretary Defence Chuck Hagel, who paid a day long unannounced visit and held separate meetings with Nawaz and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif.
Nawaz and Hagel held in-depth exchanges on the whole range of issues of mutual interest. The two leaders agreed to work together to strengthen US-Pakistan ties and advance the shared interest of a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan and the region.
They reaffirmed the importance of the strategic partnership for peace and stability in the region. They noted the substantial progress made in the bilateral relationship in recent months and acknowledged that the recent high-level exchanges, including the PM’s visit to Washington, meetings of the working groups on energy, defence and security, non-proliferation and disarmament, have greatly helped in building trust and strengthening the relationship.
They also reviewed the current state of bilateral defence and security cooperation and explored ways of further expanding cooperation in this important area of the relationship.
In this regard, Nawaz stressed the importance of establishing long-term and broad-based defence cooperation with the US on the basis of mutual interest.
The two leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan. Nawaz stressed the importance Pakistan attached to a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan and reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
Hagel acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to support an inclusive reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to the PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and Defence Secretary Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik also attended the meeting.
Earlier, Hagel called on General Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters. Issues concerning defence relationship, US-Pakistan bilateral ties and regional stability came under discussion.
The secretary was accompanied by US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G Olson and US Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence Dr Peter Lavoy.
Earlier the Pentagon said Hagel would hold “candid conversations” about how to “address common threats”.
A senior Pentagon official acknowledged that while the United States and Pakistan have a “significant overlap” of regional security interests, “it has not been 100 percent.”
“There is some friction in the relationship,” the Pentagon official said. “One of the reasons the secretary is going to Pakistan is to address those issues head-on”, he added.
The United States recently restored funding to underwrite Pakistani counterterrorism efforts, including operations against militants in the regions along the Afghan border.
Hagel is the first defence secretary to visit Pakistan since the US raid in Abbottabad that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. Pakistan was embarrassed and angered by the surprise raid.

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